CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Two and a half decades of using the Convention on the Rights of the Child to advocate for child health, education and child protection has taught us many lessons on what is needed to move forward constructively to tackle poverty, HIV and AIDS and violence which challenge so many communities and their children.
We know that all infants must begin life in good health and that early childhood care can greatly influence a child’s continued learning and psycho-social development in the later years. Such care must include breastfeeding, immunisation, clean water and adequate sanitation.
Every effort must be made to ensure young children are nurtured in a safe and caring environment that enhances the physical, emotional and intellectual capacities that they must have to learn and to grow.
Education is another prerequisite as it equips children with the skills and confidence to make the most of their abilities to join a dynamic workforce or succeed in a sustainable livelihood. At the same time, it helps put girls on a path to empowerment -- a position from which they can better protect themselves from gender-based violence and HIV infection.
We must ensure that our children have the time and space to play and to be creative. We must also ensure that adolescents have ample opportunities to develop into caring and responsible citizens, free to participate in shaping their own societies.
Caring for the child also means caring for the mother. For in societies where women have no voice, limited access to resources, no legal protection and no respect, optimal child development --much less survival -- is next to impossible.